If Bill Clinton Were a Woman: The Effectiveness of Male and Female Politicians’ Account Strategies Following Alleged Transgressions

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Abstract

As persons whose careers depend upon the support of the public, politicians by definition are required to be concerned with the management of their public impressions. This research considers the impact of a politician's sex on citizens’ evaluations following alleged transgressions. The study uses an experimental design to test how the sex of the politician affects the acceptability of various accounts following transgressions. The interaction of sex with the nature of the offense and the type of account offered is examined. Analysis suggests that sex, type of account, and type of transgression affect citizens’ evaluations although not always in obvious or direct ways. Most significantly, the analysis shows that women are not judged more harshly than men when involved in a transgression.

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